Hard to know where things stand in the clash of the Seahawks titans that has held Seattle sports breathless. But Pete Carroll seems to have sent a couple of peace offerings Wednesday to the opening of Russell Wilson’s man-cave, from where nasty snarls have been heard.
The first two newcomers to the Seahawks at the start of free agency are a tight end and an offensive lineman. Both are well-regarded, mid-career veterans of the kind that often don’t become available. But every team, forced by the shrunken salary cap, has to quit on players they like.
TE Gerald Everett didn’t know it at the time, but on a Thursday night game in Seattle in October 2019, he auditioned impressively for his future employer. In a dramatic, 30-29 win by the Seahawks over his Los Angeles Rams, Everett caught seven balls on 11 targets for a game-high 136 yards.
That was part of 395 yards passing from QB Jared Goff, who was directed in part by passing-game coordinator Shaun Waldron, recently employed by the Seahawks as their new offensive coordinator.
On that night, it wasn’t enough against Wilson, who completed 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns, an effort soaked with unlikely escapes and preposterous throws.
As Rams safety Eric Weddle put it, “Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind right now.”
By hiring Everett, a 6-3, 240-pounder who will be 27 in June, the Seahawks want to help Wilson get out of his mind again, instead of wherever he has been with it lately.
It has been hard to imagine in the past couple of seasons a 136-yard game from a Seahawks tight end. The three from the past season, Jacob Hollister, Will Dissly and Greg Olsen, combined for 799 yards and six touchdowns, catching 73 balls on 106 targets. The longest reception was 28 yards. Weak.
Everett’s one-year deal is $6 million guaranteed, with $1 million in incentives, according to the NFL Network. The deal gets the Seahawks a starting tight end his prime, instead of paying $7 million a year ago to the over-the-hill Olsen, who retired after his disappointing season, or an earlier TE retread, Ed Dickson.
Excited to join the Hawks and be able to join something special. Seattle, I can’t wait to see you & the 12. You will get my all 💚💙 .
— Gerald Everett (@lightningstrk12) March 18, 2021
A second-round pick in 2017 from South Alabama, Everett had in four years 127 passes for 1,389 yards and eight TDs. He was the third-rated tight end in the free agent class by Pro Football Focus, which wrote that Everett is “an athletic tight end who has taken advantage of his role within the Rams’ offense to put up some solid numbers in a limited workload. He has averaged more than 5.0 yards after the catch and broke 30 tackles.
“Given his age and upside, as well as his relatively small workload throughout his NFL career, he could be an intriguing option.”
His snap counts grew from 29 percent his rookie year to 57 percent last season. With Hollister a free agent and Colby Parkinson missing most of his rookie year with injury, Dissly is the only other experienced tight end, and after two serious leg injuries, his production was down in 2020.
The other hire was via a trade, a fifth-round pick going to the Las Vegas Raiders for guard Gabe Jackson, 29, a seven-year starter who, according to PFF, didn’t give up a sack and only two quarterback hits in 634 pass-block snaps at right guard in 2020.
A third-round pick in 2014 out of Mississippi State, Jackson likely will be shifted to the left guard spot vacated by the retiring Mike Iupati, whose injuries became a liability late in the season.
Jackson is a big upgrade, but the cost was dear.
Not only did his acquisition eat up 25 percent of the Seahawks’ draft capital (now they have only a second, a fourth and a seventh), but his contract calls for $9.6 million this season and $9.5 million in 2022. The Seahawks have to try to extend his contract in order to lower his cap hit in 2021.
Mostly because of the contract, the Raiders reportedly were ready to release Jackson into free agency, but undoubtedly were thrilled to find the Seahawks sufficiently desperate to part with a draft pick.
While Everett and Jackson certainly should please Wilson, the needs at the positions were so obvious the Seahawks didn’t need his or anyone’s help to spot the vulnerabilities. But the commitments to the offense suggest that Carroll understands Wilson is speaking some truth.
Carroll’s continuing belief that he values Wilson was underscored when news leaked Tuesday about the treasure the coach turned down from the Chicago Bears in a proposed trade: Three first-round picks, a third-round pick and two players who were not identified.
Radio host Dan Patrick passed along the scoop the Bears wanted out in public, because fans were hammering them for settling on Andy Dalton. They had been dreaming of Wilson for weeks after Chicago was one of four teams named by Wilson for which he was willing to waive his no-trade clause.
The Bears wanted all to know they were trying. The Seahawks weren’t budging. Why would they? The Bears offered no quarterback in return, and their first-round pick in the draft is at 20, which is likely too late to take one of the five college quarterbacks deemed by most scouting services as NFL-ready.
Unlike the Houston Texans, who have to be looking for the best deal following QB Deshaun Watson’s adamant refusal to continue playing for a dysfunctional organization, the Seahawks haven’t been confronted with a trade demand.
They have the luxury of telling the Bears to drop dead while greeting Wilson with a quality tight end and pass-blocker.
The tension isn’t over. But gifts can’t hurt, and spring starts Saturday.